How Long Does It Take to Become a Licensed Semi Truck Driver?
The answer will both surprise you. In a recent truck driving school email trying to solicit new semi truck driver recruits, there are ten (10) basic questions answered about getting “your Class A Commercial Drivers License.” Most of the questions deal with the “severe shortage of qualified drivers right now” and the “steady income, excellent job security, flexibility…” However, to show just how easy it is to become a licensed tractor trailer operator, the truck driver training school offers a “structured 3 week, 154 hour schedule, taught Monday through Friday from 7:00 am to 5:30 pm and one evening of nighttime driving.” This training school even goes on to openly admit “[w]e want you to pass your CDL test and begin to drive in as short a time as possible.” That’s correct. They want to put commercial truck drivers on the road with the rest of us, perhaps driving an overloaded truck like the one depicted in the photo to the right, “in as short a time as possible.”
This truck driver training facility is correct when it decries a “severe shortage or qualified drivers” but putting unskilled and poorly trained drivers on the highways and interstates is not the answer. One of the most common causes of tractor trailer or semi truck accidents is poor training and supervision. Despite high unemployment among younger workers, there is little interest in driving a truck long distance. The pay is certainly good by comparison, but drivers are on the road and away from friends and family for days, if not weeks, at a time. More seasoned truck drivers will attest to the strain being a “trucker” can have on marriages and relationships. It is also “lonely” on the road, and you can only listen to the same CDs so many times. Consequently, it is expected that the truck driver shortage nationwide will only worsen as older drivers retire or leave the road.
Where does this leave the other driving public? Well, our safety is put at extreme risk when heavy, overloaded trucks are driving down the highway at interstate speeds. Physics come into play, and bad things can happen quickly when loads shift or a driver has to try to stop thousands of pounds to avoid a crash. The answer is fairly straightforward. We need to attract more short haul drivers who can pass their load onto other truckers and get back home to their family and friends. It will certainly require more effort to coordinate schedules, but that’s what computer systems can easily manage. Simply putting more improperly trained and inexperienced drivers on the road is a formula for disaster. We already know where that plan takes us. Innocent lives should be better protected by the trucking industry. If they take risks with our lives, they should be held to account when bad things happen.